A strong social media presence is now an important factor in the success of many events – social can help you attract attendees, build anticipation and spread the word about how brilliant the event is as it unfolds. In order to maximise the opportunity, there are certain steps you should take – read on for my simple guide. I see Twitter as the killer social media platform for events, hence the reason the vast majority of this guide focusses on the 140 character realm.

Prior to your event

The first stage of this phase is building an audience that may well become event attendees. How to do this? I suggest using a tool such as SocialBro to identify Twitter users who are interested in and tweeting about your focus areas and then following them. Take it easy though, don’t overdo it – a huge following account with little reciprocation looks very spammy. Of course, you should look to interact with these people too – be sure to warm them up a little before trying to sell them an event ticket. A nice way to do this is to supply them with great content housed on your event site, it will bring them into your owned area and they’ll be able to easily find out more.

Build things gradually and monitor for people discussing the event or asking you any related questions. Take things further and set up searches that will allow you to do some Twitter outreach – join conversations that are relevant and again, don’t be too pushy! Establish your event hashtag early – make it short and easy to remember and check that it isn’t being used elsewhere.

I’m going to fast forward now to the immediate weeks prior to the event (3-4 weeks) and outline your key activities:

  • Follow all attendees – asking for Twitter handles at registration phase is wise
  • Follow all event partners, sponsors etc
  • Create Twitter lists for both of these
  • Curate relevant content from across the web in order to ensure your Twitter feed is interesting and informative
  • Ensure people are aware of event timings, venue and so on – use your hashtag at all times
  • Help people with any travel, accommodation advice etc
  • Explain that people can interact with the event organisers during the event by using your @name or just with your hashtag

Following those steps will ensure you have a laid a great foundation!

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During your event

Please, please dedicate someone to running your Twitter feed on the day – if you can’t make it someone’s raison d’être, then make sure someone can dedicate time to it! Your job as the event organisers isn’t to guide the Twitter chat in a certain direction – what attendees tweet is up to them, and you should let that flow, however you should be taking a proactive approach. Here are the key points:

  • Make it very easy for people to know what the event hashtag is – it can be very frustrating if it needs to be searched for. The same goes for your Twitter handle. Ensure both have a constant, visible presence.
  • Ask your speakers to add their username to their slides – this will help people tweet about their talks and give credit
  • Encourage people to tweet about the event using your hashtag. If you want, invite them to ask questions for the speakers via a tweet and then put those questions to the speakers on their behalf.
  • Live tweet the best pieces of insight, quotes and images from the presentations etc and tag all of your updates. This is important in order to build a real Twitter buzz about the event, both for attendees and those observing remotely. Make people want to be there in person next time round! Get trending!
  • Interact with the audience (both attendees and remote), re-tweet great snippets, give relevant information about speakers (twitter usernames for example) and the event in general (wifi access info for example)
  • Monitor hard! Look out for tweets from attendees that need answered – especially any complaints about sound quality etc
  • Use a tool such as Sprout Social to ensure you can slickly manage the Twitter flow, it can get hectic!
  • If you must have a screen that shows the live tweets unfolding from the event, be sure to place it somewhere that doesn’t take people’s eyes away from the main stage

Simple things that are often neglected!

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Post-event

The work isn’t over as soon as the audience shuffle off home! The follow-up is very important, here are some key pointers:

  • Make sure no questions or feedback are/is left unanswered
  • Thank all attendees, speakers etc
  • Respond to anybody who tweeted saying they’d love to attend the next one
  • Create a Storify with all of the best tweets from both the speakers and attendees and tweet it out with the event hashtag. Tweet it directly to anyone who was very active, especially if they’re included in the Storify. Add the link to your other relevant social media.
  • Write a wrap blog post that covers all of the key areas of the event, best insights etc. Tweet it, add it to your LinkedIn company page, Facebook etc.
  • Keep your Twitter account active in-between events by curating great content and ideally continuing to create your own content

Follow all of that and you’ll be doing a grand job!  Please feel free to add any tips, questions etc in the comments. Velocity Digital offers a social media service for events, if you require support, please do contact us .

Image credits – header image – https://www.flickr.com/photos/leweb3 curtain – https://www.flickr.com/photos/blondinrikard post box – https://www.flickr.com/photos/bevgoodwin all used under creative commons

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